Films, cartoons, books and songs influence us and affect how we look at the world. As kids, we look at the world through a clear lens and as time goes on, this lens is tinted with various beliefs and opinions. Sometimes, we don’t realize how tinted our glasses are and how this affects our way of thinking and treating other people.
When watching the Minions movie, amidst the constant chatter of the yellow creatures and the plot of the film, one of the characters I noticed the most was the hairdresser before the coronation scene. His ‘feminine behavior’ strengthens the stereotype that male hairdressers or males in the fashion and beauty industry are gay. The worst part is that their sexual orientation is portrayed by giving them a high pitched voice, feminine gestures and a lack of masculinity. Minions is a film that can be watched by the entire family, and while not limited to it, definitely has a large audience among children.
The film, in just a few seconds, tells people, children and adults alike, that men who lack masculinity, which itself is an image put forward by society, are essentially gay or meant to be laughed at. Characters like the hairdresser in Minions are for comedic effect and such films are making it acceptable to laugh at people who don’t fit into stereotypical gender roles.
You can argue saying it’s too small a detail being made too big a deal out of but as said above, we are influenced greatly by what we see. Without realizing it, we create images in our head about what’s ‘normal’ and not and what’s male or female and what’s right and wrong.
Let’s look at another way in which we are influenced in a way we don’t even realize. Most kids’ meals at fast-food joints give free toys. Sometime back, one fast-food chain had separate toys for boys and girls. Before being given the meal, the customer was asked if they wanted the boys’ toy or the girls’ toy, and so the great dividing of toys and assigning them to genders continued.
Even Kinder Joy is in pink for girls and in blue for boys. Should we be telling children that certain toys, say cars, are for boys while toys like dolls are for girls? Should we limit what a child has access to simply because of their gender?
There is a post on social media about a five-year-old who wears pink ballerina shoes to school. When his mother told him they were for girls, his reply was, ‘ninjas can wear pink shoes too.’ When he wore them to preschool, he got many compliments. However, adults weren’t that kind.
What this tells us is that children are accepting of others, and they don’t think a boy wearing pink could lead to him being a gay man, not that there is anything wrong with being gay either. Children don’t think of colors or toys as made for females or males, and they need not bother about such things. However, some of these children do grow up to be judgmental and reject whatever goes against their beliefs and opinions.
This happens because as a child grows up, he/she is surrounded by social norms, religious beliefs and various opinions. So a child, who looks at the world through a clear lens, slowly loses his/her ability to see the world as it is. He/she grows up, sees the world through tinted glasses and stops being as innocent, understanding and accepting as he/she once was.
We, as young adults, are in a stage where we can take off those glasses and rub them clean of any tint, dye or grime. We can stand against stereotypes. We can reject the idea that one should be humiliated based on their preferences. We can also, however, continue to wear our tinted glasses. The choice is ours.
Taking off those glasses may seem like such a simple gesture and yet, it will make a huge difference in our lives and in society too. Garbage on the pavement?